Thursday, September 30, 2010

Come On Out Tonight!! Plus watch this video!!

Kristi Neumann and friends are hosting a benefit concert tonight in Nashville AT 3RD AND LINDSLEY AT 8PM, with all proceeds going toward land and water development in the Korah community. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know how the community of Korah impacted all of us from our last mission trip. If you happened to miss that video and want to get a glimpse of what we are raising money for then CLICK HERE.

The amazing Kristi Neumann met with me for coffee not too long ago and told me she wrote a song and wants all the proceeds to go toward adoption grants. She wants this song to aid in helping bring waiting children home to their forever families. Let me tell you.....IT IS AWESOME!! All of you in adoption world are going to eat it up. Make sure you download it from itunes and tell all your friends. By downloading, you are bringing a child one step closer to HOME!! I put together this video showcasing her song. YOU HAVE TO CHECK IT OUT BELOW. Then come tonight and see her sing it live!!

Also, the amazing SHOOF, will be the opening act tonight!!! Why am I super excited about SHOOF? Well....because my son plays in this adorable teen band :) They are incredible!! Everyone come out and show your support tonight for all of the amazing artists who are so graciously donating their time for such a worthy cause.

Now enjoy this video showcasing the brand new release of "Cole's Lullaby". (Silence music at bottom of page, or CLICK HERE to go to the link)


Why did Kristi write this song? Let her tell you in her own words.....

"My best childhood friend had her first baby this year and he was three and a half months early. She lives in Portland and I live in Nashville. I didn't feel like there was anything I could do to help or to ease her pain, I felt useless being so far away. I thought about that little boy (Cole) so helpless in the NICU and my friend not being able to hold her little boy or to comfort him. So I wrote "Cole's Lullaby" for the family, I thought every child should have their own lullaby. I felt like the most important thing a child could know is that they are loved and always have a safe place to call home, no matter where they are. I was sitting at a restaurant finishing the lyrics to the song and my dear friend Ashli York met me to tell me about her recent mission trip to Ethiopia with Ordinary Hero. She told me her sister wanted to adopt one of the orphans from Ethiopia but that it was an expensive process to bring a child over to the United States. I instantly knew I was to record and donate the proceeds of the lullaby to this adoption, and adoptions in the future. I know I was meant to write that song for Cole (who just got to come home this month and is doing well), and now I hope that song raises lots of money so that other children can find a safe place to call home."

Lyrics to Cole's Song

It's the moon's turn to shine
So my dear we must say good night
Close your eyes and dream
And know your place is with me

Go to sleep little one
I'll be here in the morning
By your side to hold you when you wake
I'll be wishing time would fly
Begging that sun to rise
You know my darling I can't wait
I can't wait

I've never loved like this before
Because you are mine and I am yours
You have my heart, you can believe
I'll be right here tomorrow so rest at ease

Go to sleep little one
I'll be here in the morning
By your side to hold you when you wake
I'll be wishing time would fly
Begging that sun to rise
You know my darling I can't wait
I can't wait

And I'll always be your safe place to go
So my love you're never alone

Thank you, Kristi, for such an amazing song!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How Did God Burst The Bubble I Live In?


Thank you for your comments from my last post. I would like to reflect on some points from some of them from some of you who have been put in the position of seeing outside the bubble.

Morgan~ The first time God "burst" my bubble was when I visited the nursing home for the first time. I remember thinking about how selfish my life had become, and this was God pointing me to a purpose bigger than myself: serving "the least of these".

Susan~ He has pushed us to stop being selfish Christians. Oxymoron, right? But that is what we were and are still struggling to overcome. It started with deciding that if we loved God and we loved people, shouldn't our lives reflect that?
..........Tonight He continued to work on me as I wept uncontrollably over my selfishness and how much of my life I have already wasted on myself. I pray that I don't get sucked back into the "American Dream" Christian life, but that I can pick up my cross and follow Him. It is a constant battle.

Gretchen~ I used to live in a bubble, and am SO glad that God burst it. The hardest thing is that others in my family still do.

Staci~ God has "burst my bubble" pretty recently by opening my eyes even more to the world.. I have wanted to work with orphans overseas for years, but never as much as He has given me a passion for in these last few months. He has opened my eyes to the need to reach the unreached people in the world who have never heard the Gospel and I feel my heart being tugged in that area.

Here are a few examples from my own experiences
It started with me when my kids were acting rotten, when they were all age 10 and under. My husband and I loaded them up and drove downtown to look for homeless people on the street to teach them a lesson. Well, we found them. There was an Asian man, whom my kids nicknamed Jackie Chan, we met sitting on a bench, wrapped in a blanket with two trash bags beside him that held everything he owned. My husband got out with a couple of the kids and handed him some homemade pumpkin bread and coffee that we had brought along. He immediately said "God Bless You" and quickly sat up and scarfed it down. We sat and talked with this man and heard a bit of his sad story about had he had lost everything and had no family. My kids looked like deer in headlights. Their eyes were as big a quarters. We left and went home that night. All of my kids included Jackie Chan in their prayers for weeks to come. And anytime they acted up all I had to do was remind them of Jackie. That night burst our bubble. We left on a mission to quickly find some homeless people to teach our kids a lesson and God taught us one.

I later took my bible study group out to do the same thing. We couldn't find the homeless on the streets because it was cold. I drove to the only mission I knew of which was the men's mission. They told me to go to the women's mission. I didn't even know there was one. We got there, expecting to see typical looking, toothless, dirty, homeless women and were greeted by the smiling faces of children and mommas who were hurting because they couldn't provide for them. Again, I went out to try to teach my group a lesson and God taught us all one. That burst the bubble of my worldview, once more. I couldn't lay my head down at night knowing that those hurting people are just on the other side of town, which is why we have served there since then.

We set out to adopt a child from Africa. We knew a child would need us. We could rescue him, so to speak. We landed on the rich soil of Africa and braced ourselves for the poverty we had heard about. Expecting to see the worst, we were greeted with more love than we could have ever imagined by some of the poorest people in the world. They have nothing but yet they have everything. We have everything in America, but yet, we have nothing without the love of God. We were there to pick up our child from this country but yet God grabbed our hearts in ways we could never have imagined. We went, thinking we were doing them a favor but yet God burst our bubble once more. They did so much more for us than we ever could have done for them. They opened our eyes. We came home and could not lay our heads down at night, knowing that our son's country suffers with poverty as it does and not do anything about it. We have been serving there for the past two years and receiving more blessing from them than we could ever give.

These are a few examples of how we saw outside our bubble in which we live. In each instance it required that we take the first step in order to see it. You have to go. You have to step into it in order to be changed. God is waiting there every time.

Blessings.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Let's Get Real....How Many of Us Need To Be Challenged To Step Outside The Bubble We Live In?

Let's Get Real.......Do you live in a bubble? A bubble that consists of your world and everything within your sight and your reach? I mean, it's very easy to do. We get caught up in our day to day which consists of work, school, running here and there, going to the grocery, ballgames, homework.....and then, Whew! Who has time for anything else, right?
Well, that leads me to my question of the week.
How many of us need to be challenged to step outside the bubble that we live in? The most eye opening experience is to discover that you actually do live in a bubble. You never discover it unless you take that first step out of your own world, and that which encompasses it, land yourself into someone else's world and then take a look back at your own. Then you see it.

I hear quite often that people, especially Christians, are plagued with guilt over not feeling like they do enough to help people. They feel like they should be doing something. That feeling lasts for a while and then it is drowned out once again by the busyness of life and the comfort of our bubbles.

Is it comfortable to step out into a world that is unfamiliar, whether that be across town at a homeless shelter, or across the world in an orphanage? Is it easy to serve others? The answer is NO, it is not comfortable and it is not easy? It takes laying ourselves and our own wants for that moment aside. It requires us to be obedient to what we feel in our spirit that we are called to do. It is SO easy to push that feeling aside.

But is there reward in the end? YES!! A thousand times....YES! We then wipe the sweat from our brow and say "Whew, It was worth it!" We see the great need and then we see how we were placed in a position to help that need. But the only way the need got solved was because we chose to step outside of our own world, our own "bubble", so to speak, and step into a place where we can be used by God.

I lived in a bubble for many years before my eyes were opened. I have a cool story which I will share in the next post about how God busted my bubble. Often times our bubbles consist of worry, depression, problems within, that we would discover really aren't that bad if we ever stepped out long enough to look at the problems of others.

How have you been challenged to step outside of your "bubble"? Please tell the benefits of it and what it was that opened your eyes to it. We all need to be encouraged in this area. And we all need to get real and admit that most of us live in a bubble in the first place. How can we see, unless our eyes are opened?

Psalm 119:18 (New Living Translation)


18 Open my eyes to see
the wonderful truths in your instructions.

Sometimes opening our eyes to need around us could be as simple as looking across the street.


I look forward, as always, to hearing how you can open some of our eyes with your stories and your comments :-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Final House Reveal

Many of you have read about us meeting Ms Clemmie on the street in East Nashville right after the flood. She poured her heart out about her blind mother and her father. I went and met with them. I saw the flood damage but I also saw much more need than that. The house was in horrible shape. So seeing it first hand mixed with hearing Clemmie's heart cry for her mother put us all in action. I have personally never taken on a project restore this big. But something said "Go".......so I did :) Yes, it was a TON of work but God's army came through for this family. They now live in a beautiful home to match their beautiful spirits. Mrs Mary, Clemmie's mother, poured herself into her children, neighbors and the community and always took them into her home and fed them and gave them a warm place to sleep regardless of the mess that their life was in. She has experienced loss by watching many family members, including her own daughter who passed away, fall victim to Aids, drugs and alcohol.........but she loved them all the same. The final loss she experienced was her eyesight three years ago. This is an amazing family that I am so privileged to have met. They have opened my eyes to the needs in the inner city and we continue to support Clemmie in her life mission of pulling gang members off the streets in inner city Nashville. She has such a powerful testimony herself and now she takes that and uses it to help young girls who fall victim to gangs.

SO HERE IT IS.......I AM SO PROUD OF THIS PROJECT :)
Just look at what a bunch of Ordinary Heroes can accomplish when they put together their time, labor, money, donations and love. Thank you a million times over to those of you who jumped on board with this. I NEVER could have done it without you. I jumped into this without really having a clue what would be involved :) But through all of you, God showed up to pull this family from the heaviness in which they lived. May you all be doubly blessed for all the love you have shown them.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE LINK OR SILENCE THE MUSIC AT BOTTOM AND WATCH IT BELOW.

Ordinary Hero~ Nashville Flood Victim's Home Restored from Kelly Putty on Vimeo.

If you want to see our previous video which documented more of their story and their need and some of the AMAZING people who came in to help CLICK HERE. It is very eye opening and heart warming.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Update.....Ashleigh Got A Transplant!!


Can I just say OH MY GOSH!!! I can't get this posted fast enough. I just received this update on Ashleigh, whom I know many of you have been praying for. Truly Amazing!!! Never underestimate the power of prayer people :) Your prayers helped change the world for one 15 year old girl. Keep the prayers coming for both the receiver and the family of the donor of this life giving gift.
This is from her Dr.........

SHE GOT A TRANSPLANT!!
Thank you to everyone who responded to my prayer request for Ashleigh! I appreciate all the replies - I know many of you have been anxiously waiting for an update. Here's the BEST one I can send out: Ashleigh received a heart transplant very early this morning and did really well!! I am amazed at how quickly a heart became available. What a wonderful feeling to see her parents today in the waiting room - for the past week they have expressed many thank-you's for your prayers! We aren't given any information on the donor, but what a generous gift of life for a teenage girl! As we pray for Ashleigh's strong recovery with her new heart let us also remember the donor and his or her family in their loss. Thank you again for your love, support and prayers!
-English
English Flack, MD
Clinical Fellow, Pediatric Cardiology
Vanderbilt Children's Hospital

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How Do I Know If I'm Called To Adopt? Let Me Tell You Our Story



I know everyone has to hear from God in their own way to find the peace and the courage to step forward in the world of adoption. I will try to quickly tell you our story and how things fell into place, even though we thought differently in the beginning.

Basically, we had 5 children (see above photo) and had never thought about adoption AT ALL until our eyes were first opened to it through some friends who had just brought home their daughter from China. We were invited to a Christmas party and when we walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell we were greeted by the beautiful little china doll pictured below. She had the biggest smile and was full of so much joy. It was the first time I had been around an adopted child. They eventually told us her story of how she was found on the doorstep of a building, abandoned. I just couldn't believe her story and then what I was now looking at in this changed life because they had adopted her. So that is what initially opened our eyes. This was in 2004.


Not long after that my husband and I went to a Steven Curtis Chapman concert. Toward the end of the concert he played THIS SONG WITH THIS VIDEO and his newly adopted little girl from China ran out on the stage and jumped in his arms. To say I was bawling was an understatement. Something had hit me like a ton of bricks. This is what made us start thinking deeper. It made us think Hmmm?? Could we?


Then, one evening my husband and I were watching an Oprah primetime special of Oprah in Africa. She was surrounded by children in Africa who had nothing, but yet had such love pouring out of them it was unbelievable. It showed orphans and again, our
eyes were opened and we were stirred once more. Again....BAWLING!! I'm talking an ugly cry. The show ended and my husband turned off the tv and turned to me and said "How do people turn off the tv and pretend that kind of need does not exist in this world? How can we see
that and not do something?" We had been having

a couple of conversations previously, throwing around the idea of adoption, but then kept coming back to how nuts we were because we already had 5 mouths
to feed. It hit us both after that program. We decided in that moment, immediately after that show that we were going to go for it....crazy or not! We were going to adopt.
We were then left with the question "From where?" We knew we were pulled internationally because everything that had been stirring our hearts was international need. We first went down the China trail because of how much our eyes had been opened to that but then learned it would be difficult because of the number of children we already had. So then we thought "Where?" We were praying for God to show us.

We ran into one of our pastors that week at a ballgame who was talking about adopting from Ukraine. They invited us to a banquet where we saw actual Ukraine orphans who had been adopted and their lives changed forever. We just knew this had to be the Lord because all the pieces were falling into place too easily. We felt Ukraine was the way to go so we signed with their agency and started the process to adopt a 2 year old little girl. In our minds that was perfect. Our youngest boy was 4 at the time and we felt it was time for another little girl that would fit perfectly in our family :) So see picture below.....this is who we had pictured in our minds, that would soon be joining our family.

We flew through paperwork, homestudy, all that good stuff only to have our dossier STOPPED and put on hold. What? Yep....the country shut its doors to Americans to adopt from Ukraine for what was supposed to be just a few months. Each month we were told it wouldn't be that much longer. Well......TWO YEARS LATER, we decided to switch countries. With no end to the wait in sight we felt it was just too hard and we needed to pray about another country. Now back to "Where, Lord, where?"

We were at a loss as to which direction to go when I received a very random phone call out of the blue from a woman I had never met. She was the aunt of a friend of mine who heard about what a hard time we were having. She called me and straight forward asked, "Have you ever thought about adopting from Africa? I am leaving on a plane tomorrow and am going into some orphanages and could look for you." Well, I was completely caught off guard but told her we had thought about it for a minute after watching that Oprah special but then ruled it out of our minds because we thought it would be too weird for one black child to live with an all white family. (This is how small our thinking was at the time) We didn't want that one child to feel differently. I then just told her to email me once she got there and let me know what she found.
She immediately emailed me and had found a newborn boy that she was certain was our son. What? Boy? Newborn? But again, the way it all lined up out of the blue we thought it just had to be God so we said "Ok". For one year we supported little Daniel pictured below with his mother. They let me name him and we fell in love with him. We switched all our paperwork from Ukraine to Nigeria where he was from and waited again. FINALLY the paperwork came back from Nigeria and they said we were approved to adopt him BUT we had to go live there for 3 months before we could bring him home. WHAT? How could we not have known this? That was impossible!! We had 5 children. So again, with tears streaming, we had no choice but to shut the door to that adoption. His uncle stepped up and adopted him and we supported him for a while. We were now 3.5 years into this and again back to square one. We were devastated and so were our kids. We loved Daniel.
We began praying and doubting if we were even called to adopt or not. I was now focusing my efforts on helping homeless kids and was wondering if we were just supposed to do that instead of adopt. We took in some kids into our home for several days to help their mom out who had a miscarriage. We really bonded with this family and the kids. (See picture below) This is the 4 year old boy and his sis who we helped (look familiar?). They quickly became a part of our family and we saw them all the time for a while. It is totally amazing to me to see how God was planting seeds and preparing the way without us even knowing it.
So then when I had just about given up on adoption all together and had just sent out a letter to all the people who had donated, explaining that we really didn't know if it was going to happen or not....my sis sends me an email with a video. Kristi sent me an email that said "Watch this video! It is a family that just adopted a boy from Ethiopia. They did exactly what you have been trying to do and I hear it is easier in Ethiopia." So hesitantly I click on the video and this random video she sent happened to be a girl I knew. "Wait a minute! I know her! That's Tracy!" I had spoken at her bible study a year earlier and shared my testimony. I called her and she came to my house and brought her son, Levi and shared their story

with me and my sis, Kristi and my sis Karson. By the time they left, Kristi and I both were on board!! Wow! This was not only what we had been waiting for but it seemed to be my sister's time as well.
So now almost 4 years into the process we sign with an agency to adopt a boy between the age of 3-5 from Ethiopia.
About a week into it I jumped on their waiting list. I knew most of the kids were siblings but I wanted to see them anyway.
Out of about 50 different kids, there was one boy who stuck out to me.
I was drawn to him and his great big smile. I kept coming back and looking at his pic. When I looked up his info, it showed he had an older sister around the age of 13. So, disappointed, I said "Shoot!" and then tried to get him out of my mind since I knew we couldn't adopt two. I got up and walked out of the room and left the waiting kids up on the screen. My oldest daughter came in and sat down and next thing I know she is yelling my name. She yells "Mom, come here! You have to see this cute kid!" I ran in and it was the exact same boy I had been drawn to. I thought how strange that she was drawn to the same great big smile I was out of all of those kids. I quickly showed her that he had to be adopted with his sister and she was disappointed too. That was the end of that.
The following week, while we were in Fl on the kids Spring Break, I received an email from the agency with a referral. I couldn't believe we were getting a referral within two weeks of signing with them!! The email read....."This little boy is around 4 years old.
He just became available. Would you consider adopting Natnael?" When I opened the email I about died!!! It was him!!

It was the same little one, with the great big smile, that I had seen and my daughter had seen!! I went on to read that he had previously been listed with his much older sister. She had always remained with his mother since the orphanage would not take her because of her age. Natnael had been waiting in the orphanage for well over a year without getting picked because he was connected to his sister. So they decided that they would separate them since she was about to age out and he had not been living with them regardless.

It took me one second to send the email back and scream "YES,YES. WE WANT HIM!" I knew without a doubt that THIS WAS FINALLY IT! The pieces finally fit and I didn't have to force it :) So when it was finally right.....from start to finish after switching our paperwork from Nigeria to Ethiopia.....5 months later we flew to Ethiopia and met our child that we had waited four years for.
I finally was staring into the eyes of the child that God had picked for us all along. He was such a long awaited beautiful gift!! I couldn't believe my heart had ever thought I would end up anywhere else. He was perfect! He was mine! We were his! Finally!!

Now, knowing his story, we see God's plan all along. It is amazing!! We weren't waiting for God to bring a child to us, we were waiting for God to bring us to him. Here is the cool part.....When God laid adoption on our hearts in 2004, that night after watching Oprah, that was the very time Nathan was born. Then, we went down the Ukraine trail and waited for two years.....that was the two years that Nathan lived with his mother. Then, when we got that, out of the blue, call from my friend's aunt asking "Have you ever thought about Africa?" ....that was when Nathan was placed in the orphanage. That is what turned our hearts to Africa! We tried to adopt the little boy from Nigeria which is what made us fall in love with the idea of a boy from Africa. That was also the period of time that Nathan sat waiting to be adopted, while linked to his sister. Then when that fell through, and we were at the end of our rope, was when the agency was thinking of separating Nathan and his sister. We had just lost our boy from Nigeria and our hearts were longing for a son from Africa. Then everything lined up for us to turn in our paperwork for Ethiopia which landed on the desk at the exact time that they decided to separate Nathan from his sister and have him get adopted out on his own. That was around the same time I saw him on the waiting list and then he showed up in my inbox a week later, which was God's confirmation :)

How could we ever deny that God was all over that? In the midst of our wait we doubted, we spent more money then we planned, we switched countries 3 times, we thought everything was out of whack when in all actuality we were in the middle of God's will the whole entire time. Everything would line up perfectly for him to give us the time He needed to change our hearts and our mind set of what we thought our family was supposed to look like, and to bring us to Nathan at the very moment he needed a family to step up.

Ha! Our 2 year old, blonde little girl actually turned out to be a 4 year old boy from Africa :) God has it all planned out and knows exactly what we need, even when we don't. We now support his mother and sister and his sister just got into a brand new school which she is very excited about. She and her mom get to stay together, while knowing their beloved Natnael is taken care of and loved, just like she prayed.

Just hang on for the ride and trust Him every step of the way.....even when things don't make sense. It is all about the child in the end.....not us. God tells us to adopt for a reason. That reason is a little child that God has already hand picked for YOU and your family.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (New Living Translation)

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Our many paths led us to Natnael,which became our Nathanael, which is our beloved Nathan.
This is Nathan the first day we picked him up in Ethiopia. He was ready to go, never to look back again. He had been waiting and he was more than ready to meet his Mom and Dad. Who is waiting on YOU?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Let's Get Real....How Do I know If I'm Called To Adopt?

How do I know if I'm called to adopt? I get asked this question quite often by those struggling with the thought of adoption. Let's face it, we all go through the beginning stages of God laying something on our heart and then we bombard our minds with all kinds of questions like......
God, is that you or did I just make that up? How can I love a child that is not my own? Can I physically, financially and emotionally take on another child? How in the world can I come up with that kind of money? When, Lord When, when is the right time?

These are questions that any of us who have adopted have asked ourselves at one time or another. I know that there are many who read this blog who are praying about whether they are called to adopt or not.

I would like to hear from some of you who would like to share how God laid adoption on your heart and then what caused you to move forward. I know I have a cool story of how God confirmed to us without a doubt that He was right in the middle of it all. I will share that in the next post but if some of you want to share your cool stories as well, I know that will encourage those in the beginning stages of praying this through.

And if some of you who are praying about this have other questions regarding this then throw them out. There are enough people who read this that I'm sure you will get some insight.

So LET'S GET REAL people..... How do you know if you are called to adopt?

I look forward to reading your comments :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Update on Ashleigh plus a Nathan story :)

For those of you praying for Ashleigh....here is the last email update I received a day or so ago.

Ashleigh is going tomorrow to the OR for a ventricular assist device so if this goes well it will buy some time in waiting for a heart and we can allow her to wake up again and come off the ventilator. Thanks again,
English
English Flack, MD
Clinical Fellow, PGY-4
Pediatric Cardiology
Keep praying everyone....

Also, on another note, I posted a cute little story on my facebook a couple of days ago that seemed to strike a cord with folks. This is what I wrote about my son :) I left the comments for you to read but just took off the names. I must also mention that we just passed the two year mark at the end of August from our Gotcha Day. I can't believe how blessed we are with Nathan. In honor of this you can click the following link to watch his Gotcha Day video :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK4AsmTiPes

A story got back to me that my son Nathan was eating with his cousin Tanner. Out of habit Tanner says "Nathan, you better eat all your food. There are starving kids in Africa." Nathan says, "I know.....I was one of them." Oh, how we forget that we haven't had our little man with us forever :)

  • After 33 likes and 19 comments later, I thought I'd share......

    • How precious! We all should be so quick to remember the depravity from which we've been saved!
      Tuesday at 7:35am · ·

    • Now that is something we should all truly think about today! Powerful and precious!
      Tuesday at 8:05am · ·

    • Kelly...that completely impacted my morning! Tears and all...wow. That's the stuff you could never make up. Thank you for sharing.
      Tuesday at 8:30am · ·

    • Oh, wow! That is sad/happy stuff together. I still can't believe you found Nathan's birth mother on our recent trip. That had to be so emotional for you all!
      Tuesday at 8:37am · ·

    • What a precious and heart-warming story. Thank you for sharing. It does make us stop and think about how lucky we are and that we should be grateful everyday. Your little Nathan is a lucky boy.
      Tuesday at 9:09am · ·

    • Out of the mouths of babes. They are so sweet and I miss my family.
      Tuesday at 9:10am · ·

    • I'm stealing this and posting...
      Tuesday at 9:18am · ·

    • i love this post.
      Tuesday at 9:25am · ·

    • WOW!
      Tuesday at 9:30am · ·

    • Bless his little heart!
      Tuesday at 9:41am · ·

    • ‎**uh!** right in my heart! So sweet!
      Tuesday at 10:08am · ·

    • wow there are really no words to describe the magintude of that!
      Tuesday at 10:33am · ·

    • my...how oft we tend to forget that not every culture is as fat and overcompensated as Americans....(ha ha ha ha). I, too, am guilty sometimes. What a great tool this will become when your little man gets older; help erase the degradation that occurs through innocent comments such as what you described. God bless children for their honesty. LOL
      Tuesday at 11:06am · ·

    • Oh, that is so sweet! Bless him!
      Tuesday at 11:15am · ·

    • amazing. My mom used to say specifically..."eat! There are starving children in Ethiopia!" That was my only impression of that country when I was little. Little did I know that seeds were being planted to bring ET into our home years later.
      Tuesday at 11:34am · ·

    • Leave it to a child to put life in perspective...:)
      Tuesday at 11:35am · ·

    • Wow. Thanks for posting Kelly!
      Tuesday at 1:04pm · ·

    • wow.
      Tuesday at 1:34pm · ·

    • Alec: "that's pretty intense"
      Me: couldn't finish reading the post out loud.
      Tuesday at 4:12pm · ·
Nathan has not forgotten where he is from and we keep it fresh in his memory so that he never will. He can't wait to go back with us in the next couple of years so that he can pass out items to the orphans. For this last trip he helped me pick out everything he thought they would like based on him remembering what it was like when he was there. We pray he becomes a strong advocate for his birth country one day :)



Monday, September 13, 2010

Please pray for Ashleigh

I just received this email forwarded from a Vanderbilt Doctor. Let's stand with them and Pray for this child.......

Family and Friends,
Please pray for my patient Ashleigh. She is a 15yo who will die very soon if she doesn't get a heart transplant. She has been in the hospital and on the waiting list for transplant since the beginning of June - she was diagnosed at 2 months of age with Dilated Cardiomyopathy that we've been following her whole life. Until recently she was doing well on just medicines but now her heart has become too sick. She was stable in the Vanderbilt Children's Pediatric ICU until Friday night when she arrested, had CPR, and was intubated. She's now on a breathing maching and awake - she writes notes to her family and medical team that say "Am I going to die?" and "Please don't let me die." She and her family are methodist - as her doctors we've done all we can and now are left with our strongest defense - PRAYER! Please pray with me that a heart is available for her soon.
English
English Flack, MD
Clinical Fellow, Pediatric Cardiology
Vanderbilt Children's Hospital

Real Perspective for a Real Question

Why does a merciful God allow suffering starvation and poverty? That's the question. I want to thank those of you who left comments sharing your thoughts and insight regarding this question in the previous post. I'd like to begin by stating that my answers to this tough question are simply my opinions based on my own personal experience of what I have been through and seen in my own life. I believe everyone must come to their own conclusion to this question. It does help to gain perspective and hear the voices of others in order to have something to juggle in our own minds. We must challenge ourselves with these tough questions from time to time. You know I am a visual gal so I will begin by showing you pictures of situations that have helped me come to the conclusions I have from some of my trips in the past year or so.

The first pic above is the reality of injustice, poverty and suffering of children thrown in the face of my friend, Lori, while we were all in Sierra Leone to open an orphanage. She told me on the plane ride there that she didn't really even know why she was going on that trip. She didn't know what her purpose was. Then, within a day or two of being there, she, like all of us, was hit with that overwhelming feeling of "Lord, this is horrible! There is just so much need everywhere....what can I do?"


Then, one morning while we were all spinning in our minds over what in the world to do about all that we had seen, a young boy shockingly showed up at our guest home. He was 14, way too thin, and had been abused. He was a part of the group of kids that we were fighting for. He was so worried that we wouldn't come back to help that he ran away from that awful place and went to his uncle for transport money and then traveled two hours by himself to come find us to ask for help. Lori was immediately drawn to him and him to her. Her heart went out to him and the Lord began laying things on her heart. Because of his bravery, and after a lot of drama, by the end of the trip he and his two siblings were free from that place of abuse and residing in the new center we went there to open.
And guess what two hearts were knitted together in the meantime? This boy's mother was dying of Aids and Lori stepped in and began showing him the love of a mother like he hadn't seen or experienced in such a long time. She came home, talked to her husband and kids and now they are thankfully adding this sibling group of three to their family through adoption. You see, this boy and his siblings were suffering, they were experiencing poverty and injustice. Lori went on that trip not knowing her purpose but found it by God placing her in the path of a hopeless child that needed her. She is the picture of Jesus, above, and what He longs to do for all those who suffer, through us.

Then there is Tina, above, who had a heart to help the orphan.
Because God laid a call on her heart for the suffering children in Sierra Leone, she now takes teams over who have found their call. You can see above that one little starving child is looking into the eyes of the closest thing to Jesus that she can have right now while she is still in this fallen world and needs Him now more than ever.
Above, you can see the joy that Tina has brought to her child's birth mother by stepping in to love this woman's daughter as her own through adoption. This mother could not even feed her child due to poverty but look at the picture above. Again, this is such a picture of how God wraps His arms around all of the suffering through us....his hands and feet, and takes care of the need. Now look at those still waiting for someone to do the same for them in the background. Remove Tina from the picture and someone would look at them and ask "Why would God allow them to suffer so?" I believe God asks the same thing of us. Why do we allow them to suffer? Where are His people? It only takes one person helping one person to make a difference, as you can see. But you have to start with the one that you can do something for. But the great thing is it never ends with one. There is a ripple effect that begins to move when you start with the one.
Above, you see us with our son just days after we picked him up for the first time in Ethiopia. He never had a father and his birth mother was deaf and mute and too poor to feed him. Because of her suffering she made the brave choice to place him up for adoption, never knowing if she would see him again, but praying he would have a better life than her. God had his life planned. In the midst of this mother's suffering He had already provided the answer. It was us. We didn't find this little boy....he found us through us allowing God to lead the way. I can't tell you how blessed we are to have this precious child. Nathan is such a gift to us. He is a gift we never would have had, had his mother not suffered and made the decisions she did. But God saw the bigger picture. The picture beyond her suffering.

When I found his birthmom and his older sister, the Lord opened the doors for us to love them and help them in their greatest time of need. We just saw where they live for the first time on this last trip to ET. Now his sister just took her exam to go to a much better school and we are preparing for them to move to a place that will fit their needs much better than what they were in. How did I find them on this last trip? We walked through a village with her picture and God found her for me. Yes, amazing! But again....look at the above picture. God would have us step in and provide hope where there is none. If we, the ones who are made in His image, don't....then who will?

You see floods everywhere these days. Our city of Nashville was hit with one that was just crazy and unheard of. People lost everything they owned and were left with lots of questions, "why?"
But then there were those who stepped in to help. Take the one blind woman and her husband who were flood victims that we recently helped. Had it not flooded then I would have had no reason to be in the place I was, which was out looking for flood victims. I stumbled upon them and now so many people stepped up to help that they have a brand new house, new friends, and saw the love of God in their greatest time of need. They turned out better in the end than they were before the flood.
Now look at the child above, and the one below. These are pictures of the lost, the fatherless, the hopeless, those without anyone to call Mom or Dad.....the orphan.
They don't look lost and hopeless, or like they are suffering at all do they? They are full of joy because of the love they are being shown by those stepping in to fill that void. All they need is us. Above, you see Ashley from our last OH trip to ET. She was so moved by the people of Ethiopia that she found her calling and is packing her bags. She leaves in November to move there permanently to serve the least of these as her life mission.
I have seen poverty and need like in the above picture of one of my favorite little buddies in Ethiopia. I about died when I saw his shoes. What are the odds that this little boy, living in a trash dump, with a leprous mother, would ever find his answer or his hope? Well, a bunch of crazy Americans stumbled across him and guess who not only has new shoes, new clothes, and is now going to boarding school?? Much to our surprise, God used us as the answer to his greatest need.

And then look at the joy that was on these orphans faces when we gave them something as basic as shoes. They LOVED them. We sometimes get overwhelmed at the need that is everywhere but really something as small as giving shoes can be an answer to prayer to a child who doesn't have any.

Something as simple as giving bread to children who are hungry can speak God's love to them more than anything else in that moment of their greatest need. Something as silly as purchasing a sheep for food seems odd to us but when you see that a sheep provides soup that feeds a village....it doesn't seem so odd or silly anymore.

Yes, there are people starving, there are people hurting and there are people suffering everywhere. We can ask "Why" all day long. I believe the "Why" is simply because we live in a fallen world. A world that fell from the beginning through bad choices that were made that now we all see the ripple effect from. But just as we see that ripple effect from the bad choices we see God provide the solution which also produces a ripple effect which changes lives for the better. The solution is us.
One of my favorite stories in the bible is the story of Joseph. There are so many times he was treated unjustly and many times that I'm sure he asked "Why, Lord....have I not been faithful?" But you see God's purpose in the end. He turned it all around and used it as the fuel for Joseph's purpose in the end.

Genesis 50:20 (New International Version)


20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

There is definitely evil in this world. The fact is that we don't have all the answers because we are not God. But if we let Him direct our steps then He can turn the that which is intended for evil, around for His good. Love outweighs evil. Love conquers all. I have stared evil in the face in my own life in my younger years. But I now see how God uses that to fuel the fire inside of me to help others, as I too, know what it is like to suffer. No amount of suffering is too big for God's love, grace and redemption. He turned my life around and now it is my duty to show others that suffer, that He can do the same for them. I think the biggest answer to the tough question is that the answer lies within us. We may not have all the answers but we are the answer to someone in need.....someone who needs hope, a hug, a kiss, new shoes, or a new mom and dad. God's love can be expressed through us on this earth and there is no greater need for it then when we are looking into the face of someone suffering. We become the hands and feet of Jesus and are placed in their path for a reason. God's purpose for our life is always much bigger than our own. We just must always step out of our comfort zone to find it.

Again....this is only the conclusion I have come to based on my own life walk and experiences. What is your conclusion? Friday we will have another LETS GET REAL question. Thank you again for your insight as we all strive to make sense of this crazy world we live in.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Let's Get Real...Why Does God Allow Suffering, Starvation and Poverty?

This is what I like to call....LET'S GET REAL!! A lot of what we focus on around here are the poor, needy, suffering, broken people in this world and how we can help. I found myself caught up in listening to a radio program yesterday. Way FM posed the question " Why would a merciful God allow suffering, starvation and poverty?"...or something like that.

The answers were interesting. I know that this is the ultimate question for a lot of non believers.
Believers and non believers alike struggle with this question. I think we all experience the "WHY" question from time to time.

I have a close family member who claims there is no God and continually brings up this point.

I know what God has proven in my own life and I have my own opinions on this subject based on my personal experience of what I have experienced and seen.

I might touch on some of my own opinions later but first I want to hear from some of you.

Especially if you, like me, have an unbelieving family member or friend.

How do you stand up for your faith in the face of unspeakable circumstances and suffering? It is around us everyday. How do you answer your own "WHY" question? It is something we all should think about and be prepared to answer.
" Why would a merciful God allow suffering, starvation and poverty?" How do you answer that question? Please leave your comment and share. I'd love to hear from you.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Birthday Shout Out to my Sis!!


I wanted to take a moment to send a birthday wish to my fellow sold out, hard core, very determined, adoption advocate partner.........my sister, Kristi. Or should I say, Lucy Lane's mom. Yes, in case you somehow missed the fact that I am the famous Lucy Lane's mom's sister....it is true. Through our adoptions we set out to change the world for one and God changed us. We are all the better for it and I love that I can help advocate for the orphan with the support and help of my sister. We are officially the same age today and will be until the 19th. We are 11 months apart :) Happy Birthday, sis!